Black Friday Part 1

Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 10.01.57 AMIt was time to lose my Black Friday virginity. I had heard about this mega shopping day for years, but had always been saving myself for Cyber Monday. Like any big milestone in your life this one required a fetching outfit. I was torn between going “cute and comfortable” or “battlefield ready.” After much research battlefield ready won out. I put on the new pair of Target track pants I had just treated myself to, a long sleeve Nike outlet top, my “dress” tennis shoes and  yanked my hair back into a no-nonsense pony tail.

The piece de la resistance of this ensemble was a fanny pack.  What’s that you say – a freaking fanny pack? Well, to be specific it was more of a tummy pack since I wore it facing forward and before you go all Fashion Police on me please note that my diligent research pointed out that I could get trampled, assaulted and/or robbed. I figured my battlefield ready outfit needed to be hands free. I didn’t want to worry about a purse sliding off my shoulder or worse a deranged shopper, hopped up on their 10th Starbucks full caf – mocha something or other, strangling me with my handbag straps. Besides, I’m a confident, middle-aged woman who knows how to work a fanny pack. Some would call it a skill. I call it a gift.

After getting dressed I did a few deep knee bends and practiced some self-defense moves I learned 3 years ago. I thought the eye gouge would be especially useful if I found myself in the crossfire of an X Box rampage. After that I reviewed my itinerary which wasn’t picked for the best deals, but to maximize my people watching. I wasn’t going to shop. I was going for a freak show and if I was sacrificing my much-needed beauty sleep and rejuvenating overnight triple Retina-A facial cream with miracle beads then by God this adventure better deliver freaks and them some.

Thanks to input from friends I left my house at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night and headed for Best Buy. My goal was to check out the line and chat up a few of the folks that abandoned turkey and mashed potatoes for the privilege of being one of the first to walk into the hallowed electronic halls of Best Buy. This is where I learned a very valuable lesson. Approach the front of any Black Friday line with extreme caution. The people who have been camped out in line for more than 24 hours are suffering from some sort of battle fatigue psychotic paranoia. When they see you walking towards them they immediately think you are trying to cut in line and they can and will harm you.

I just wanted to ask these discount die hards a few questions but as I got closer to them they started shouting, “Go to the back of the line!” or my favorite, “Get your F’ing ass to the F’ing back of the F’ing line.” At first I was scared and then I thought I was probably safe from any kind of beat down because no one would dare give up their place in line to punch me out. I stayed about four arms length away and yelled back, “I’m not here to shop. I’m a reporter doing a story on Black Friday. I write for the “I Saved More Money Than You!” website.  That calmed them down and they let me approach their clan of extreme bargain hunters. I walked up very slowly, like I was trying to pet a feral cat, to make sure everyone was okay with me getting near the front. One shopper asked for press I.D.  I quickly said, “I wish.  You think a website called “I Saved More Money Than You” is going to waste money on business cards.  Yeah, that’s a great big no.”  My response seemed to placate them and before they started googling my made up website I quickly began asking questions.

The first four people in line were all related. The Best Buy camp out was a family tradition. This year it was all about the TV bigger than your garage door. These fine folks in an attempt to save in the mid 3 figures on a T.V. were making the ultimate sacrifice in my book.  No, I’m not talking about missing out on a holiday dedicated to eating with unbridled passion, but using a 44 ounce Quick Trip cup as their bathroom. I got to witness this first hand. A 20 something woman in the clan relieved herself in my presence. Her aunt held up a blanket to give her some urinary privacy. Right about now  I’m thinking the cold may have affected the older woman’s spatial reasoning skills because the blanket was positioned in a way that only provided butt coverage. Huh? This chick was going number 1 not 2. I got an unobstructed view of the woman peeing and it was something to behold. That’s right – I watched. I couldn’t look away because this young woman was muy talented. If peeing in a cup was an artistic form of expression than she was Picasso. She barely lowered her pants yet managed to shove a 44 ounce cup into her tinkle zone and without assuming even the tiniest squat position she filled that cup with a fluid grace. She also was able to remove said cup without any discernible sign of spatter. Talk about precision peeing with zero splash zone. I was impressed and asked, “How did you learn to do that, so well?”

She said, “Lots of practice. You should have seen me at the I Phone 4S camp out.  I crapped in a cup and you could barely tell I was doing it.”  Now, I was feeling really uncomfortable, like I had crossed the line from TMI to CVS (Could Vomit Soon) and needed to leave the classy environs of Best Buy to head to my next destination.

I’m not lying when I tell you I was more than a little afraid of where I was going next. I was venturing into the belly of the beast and I didn’t know if I was woman enough to handle it. I have survived many treacherous moments in the my life up to and including; the infamous Kappa sorority rush party of 1987 where a stampede of wannabe Kappas hyped up on pixie sticks and shots of Coffee Mate Peppermint Mocha Creamer morphed into a concussion tornado, bested two women for the deluxe labor and delivery suite in the hospital while 7 cmm dilated and chaperoned 6th grade snow survival day where I was “accidently” buried alive in a snow cave and had to claw my way out. (No worries, I got those damn kids back. I told them we were being chased by a family of rabid bears.) I hoped those experiences had prepared me because Wal-Mart here I come.

Keep reading and check out Black Friday part 2, 3, and  4.

You know what’s a freaking good deal? My Snarky book series. If you haven’t experienced a Snarky book yet may cover_1-3-21I gently suggest you give it a try like right now. Yes, my friend just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂



Thanksgiving Throwdown

Thanksgiving at my parent’s house is what my husband and I like to call the “indigestion express.” It’s not my parents’ fault. They’re wonderful. It’s my three older siblings. They’re all loud, exceedingly annoying, opinionated and full of themselves. In other words nothing like me. I’m shy, reserved and thoughtful.

Okay, I’m none of those, but I like to think that I’m the least annoying member of my family. Not exactly, high praise, I know. One Thanksgiving many years ago, in the B.C. era, Before Children,  my sister and I got into it at the dinner table. It all started with the mashed potatoes.

There I was, oh so innocently, scooping myself a second heaping helping of mashed taters when the dinner conversation turned, like I’m sure it does at most families Thanksgiving dinners, to world annihilation. My eldest brother posed the question: If the world was under attack by aliens and you could pick only two family members to help you fight the horde of space invaders who would choose?

Talk about getting my feelings hurt none of my siblings picked me.  I got a little ticked off and asked why would no one would want me on their alien annihilation team? My second brother piped up and said it was because my smart mouth would result in instant death if we were captured and then my sister uttered the phrase that kicked me right in my overly full stomach. She said, “You couldn’t handle the physical exertion it would take to defeat the aliens.”

I stared at her, my mashed potato mouth wide open in shock. “Are you kidding me,” I said. “I could so take you.” She smirked at me and then shoveled a spoonful of sweet potato casserole in her mouth.

Let’s pause the tale here for a second so I can fill you in on the back story and by that I mean a brief history of the my “sister relationship”. My sister is a scant 17 months older than me. We are polar opposites in every way. She is a super smart and I’m, to be kind, let’s say not so super smart. To follow behind her in school was misery. Teachers, dismayed by my lack of  upper cranium brain matter, would actually say to me, “Are you sure you’re Rebecca’s sister?”

She burns. I tan. She has black hair, I have light brown. The most glaring difference, she’s skinny. I’m well, to be kind again, not so skinny. I don’t begrudge my sister anything not even most of her naturally thin body. The only part I’m beyond envious of are her legs. Her shapely, thin, freaking legs.  She’s cankle and thunder thigh free.

Many of you know that I’m a longtime cankle sufferer (see “Cankle Nation”) and to say I covet my sister’s lovely lower calves and trim, petite ankles is a gross understatement.  Also, my sister is not just skinny.  She’s a delicate skinny where I’m more hearty, curvy, peasant stock. Growing up she always had to buy her clothes in super slim sizes. At age 10 I was wearing women’s clothes and a women’s size 10 shoe. Talk about life not being fair.

Now, back to my Thanksgiving tale. We left off with my sister smirking at me. I wasn’t going to let that go without a comment. “Rebecca,” I said authoritatively, “who had your back all through school when kids on the bus would tease you about being four eyes or a nerd? That would be moi. I was like your mafia bodyguard. Trust me, you wouldn’t have made it through elementary school unscathed if it weren’t for me.”

She shoots back, “I didn’t say you weren’t big and (pause) scary.”

Oh no she didn’t! Those were fighting words. I was ready to pick up a turkey leg and indulge in an extreme case of poultry assault that’s if I could get to the turkey before my husband.  He looked mad enough to slap her with or without the aid of a domesticated game bird. My second brother, David, always up for a good time says, “Why don’t you two have a contest to see who’s in better shape? We can do the best 3 out of 5 events.”

I didn’t care if it was a triathlon to hell I was going to do it.  I eagerly said, “I’m in because you, Rebecca, are skinny/fat whereas I am fat/skinny.”

“What’s skinny fat mean, you freak?” she asks.  Before I could answer my mom butts in and says we are all acting juvenile and she’s ashamed of all of us.  My dad, adds, that all of this is “very uncivilized.”

I point at my sister and say in a very mature tone, “She started it” and then explain to her that skinny fat means she maybe thin because of her freakish metabolism, but she is not  in shape. Then I drop this bomb in front of my parents, “And you, Rebecca, smoke!”

My parents in unison gasp and stare at my sister. They are horrified that she’s smokes. In my head, “I’m saying ha, ha, you’re in trouble now.” After my sister explains to my parents that she “barely smokes” (please, how can you barely smoke?) and only touches a cigarette when she’s stressed doing an audit. She’s a tax accountant, for God’s sake, she’s always doing an audit which pretty much means she smokes all the time.

After my parents have been calmed down with false assurances that my sister is quitting smoking for good after tax season we continue with the contest discussion. My brother proposes that the contest takes place the next morning and will feature five events. The Pumpkin Pitch, the Pool Freeze, the Wood Stacker, the Turkey Trot and the All of the Above Obstacle Course.

The winner gets bragging rights to her sister superiority. The loser has to clean up the Thanksgiving kitchen which will not be cleaned tonight and will sit and stew in it’s own grease waiting for the loser to do their duty. My mom did not like the idea of the kitchen not being cleaned right away. It took a lot of cajoling from us to convince her that the world would not end if she went to bed with dirty dishes in the sink.

The next morning I woke up ready to take my sister down a peg or two. After a hearty breakfast of pumpkin and pecan pie I couldn’t wait to get started. My brothers in an effort to make the contest “more interesting” decided it would be fun to place bets on their sisters. Everyone had their money on my sister, except my husband. He bet all he had, 20 bucks, on me. My parents declined to take part in our “childish pursuits,”  although they did watch the action.

The contest began with the Pumpkin Pitch. We went to my parents backyard where each of us got six pumpkins to throw. Whomever throws the pumpkins the farthest wins. My sister, skinny/fat went first. She totally sucked. I gleefully taunted her by saying, “I guess all those hours sitting at a desk and “barely smoking”  have really hurt your upper body strength.” She managed to flip me the bird without my parents seeing.

I was confident I could not only beat her at throwing pumpkins but shame her. A little known fact about being a T.V. reporter you have to carry heavy equipment. Those camera tripods – not light (especially back in the day) and not only do you get to carry heavy equipment, but you get to drag it up and down the steps of the Texas State Capitol building – in heels.

You also on a fairly regular basis, have to chase politicians, the Governor, and assorted other state officials around the Capitol all while jumping over camera cables, sprinting towards elevators to shove microphones in their faces and in your down time using your T.V. gear to do biceps curls. It was an aerobic, strength training/conditioning workout everyday.

Now, I could use my work workout to shame my sister – excellent.  I picked up my first pumpkin and it soared into the neighbor’s yard, same with pumpkin 2 – 6. Winner, hands down – me!  That potato smirk my sister gave me last night was wiped off her face.

I was even more excited about the next event the Pool Freeze. We  had to jump in my parents non-heated pool, current temperature 61 degrees, and see who could swim the most laps in 10 minutes. I knew I had this one in the bag. My sister is big sissy about cold water. I’m more of the Polar bear persuasion. Yes, body fat can come in handy while braving cold water.

Ready, set, go and off we jumped into the water. My sister hit the pool and began screaming about how cold it is. “It’s too cold to swim. I’ll get an upper respiratory infection,” she wailed.

I shot back, “Shut up and swim” and began to do laps with flip turns just in case I got bonus points for finesse. Once again, I’m victorious.

It’s two to nothing when we begin the Wood Stacker event. The goal is to see how much wood (from my Dad’s woodpile) we can fill up a wheelbarrow  with then race with the wheelbarrow to the other end of the yard, dump the wood and race back to get more wood. Whomever has the most wood on the other side of the yard in 10 minutes wins. The pressure was on. If I win this event it’s over. I’ll be up 3 – 0 and my sister is kaput.

My hearty peasant stock worked to my advantage. I grabbed wood and flung into that wheelbarrow like my life depended on it and then hauled down the yard balancing the weight of the wheelbarrow with my sturdy arms. My cankles were on fire, but I didn’t care I was going for the W!

Oh yay, 10 minutes is up and I’m the w-i-n-n-e-r!  My woodpile was twice the size of my sister’s. Yes! I wipe wood bark off of me and get ready to accept my award for awesome when my skinny/fat sister starts shouting that “it’s not fair, it’s not fair!”

I  yell back, “What’s not fair sore loser?”

She starts pleading her case that the first 3 events played to my strengths because I have “man hands and shoulders.” (Is it a crime that ladies gloves don’t fit me?) No one said anything. Her unkind, but perhaps accurate statement sucked the air right out of the backyard. The silence was so eerie neighbors outside hanging their Christmas lights came over to see what was going on. It was my mom shouting “Rebecca, shame on you!” that broke the silence.

I then had to put my dude size arm out to stop my husband from what I”m sure was going to death by fist on my sister. (God, I love that man.)  “Okay, you immature little baby” I say. “I tell you what let’s combine the next two events the Turkey Trot and Obstacle Course into one and it’s winner take all. Plus, the loser has to do the Thanksgiving dishes for the next – decade!”

The Skinny/fat crybaby was all over it. We waited as my brothers set up the final challenge.

I, after getting a pep talk from my husband, was feeling confident, but a little scared. We had a one mile turkey trot through the neighborhood, then we had to swim 10 laps, after which we would dive to the bottom of the pool, grab 6 pumpkins, chuck them out, then pick them up, put them in a wheelbarrow and race to the back of the yard. My biggest problem would be running. I don’t like to run. I enjoying walking, skipping, dancing, but not running. To beat my sister though I could endure it.

The starting line is my parent’s driveway. My brother honks his car horn and we’re off.  Damn if my skinny/fat, “barely smoking” sister doesn’t take off like the mighty wind. Crap. I had hope to pace myself, but no, now I have to full-out run to stay even with her.

Thank goodness, I had put not one, but two jog bras on it because my girls were taking a beating. I figure I can let her stay a little ahead of me because I can make up time in the pool. But then my pride kicks into overdrive. I can’t let her even win the race. I must and will vanquish her in everything.

It was as if I was being fueled by my less than perfect childhood memories. All of a sudden my man hands and shoulders, my thunder thighs and cankles, my now size 11 feet all worked in unison to make me into some kind of wonder woman. My body moved faster than it ever has before or since.

I’m flying. I zoom past her and dive into the pool fully clothed, come up for air, take off my shoes, burn through 10 laps, toss out the pumpkins, grab that wheelbarrow and haul ass to the back of the yard! I not only won, I won big. My sister hadn’t even finished her laps in the pool. My family is cheering, the neighbors are cheering and my husband is pumping his fist in the air. It was a magic moment.

I stood there soaked, cold and with a chest that felt like it was going to explode. I had never felt better in my life. My brothers rush over to announce me as the winner and to give me my award – last night’s greasy gravy ladle. My husband starts chanting, speech, speech – so I raised my gravy ladle high and say, “This my family, neighbors and friends is for big girls everywhere – never, ever underestimate the power of the cankle!”

More cheers erupt. I then give my sister the ladle and suggest, very kindly, that she get to work cleaning the kitchen for the next 10 years.

Happy Thanksgiving!